Bert Olivier

Our troubled world

A number of things have struck me since we arrived in Europe to attend a number of conferences, travelling from Ghent in Belgium through Munich in Germany to beautiful Venice in the Veneto of Italy, and they do not augur well for the future of human society or the planet. These range from observations in…

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An important conference for Afrikaans in Europe

Summer is a good time for attending conferences in Europe, and 2017 has proved to be no exception. This afternoon we had to brave a thunderstorm that would hold its own against any Highveld thunderstorm in South Africa, and that in Venice, Italy, just after our arrival here from München by bus. We were on…

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The essence of neoliberalism

France’s pre-eminent sociologist and social theorist Pierre Bourdieu, who died not so long ago, did not pull his punches when it came to identifying the hegemonic economic system of the present, neoliberalism, ruthlessly as a “utopia of endless exploitation”. In an article titled “The essence of neoliberalism” (in Le Monde Diplomatique, December 1998) he puts…

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The cyber-war(s) being fought right under our noses

Time magazine invariably has very clever, multi-faceted covers, the latest one being no exception. It shows the White House – the American president’s residence and workplace, all in one – being slowly but surely devoured by Saint Basil’s Cathedral, with its red brick walls and colourful onion domes, which stands on the Red Square and…

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The age of anger

A friend of mine – Avril Gardiner, art-fundi and owner-curator of the Liebrecht at gallery in Somerset-West – recently reminded me of a piece by Bryan Walsh in TIME magazine of 20 February (2017: pp. 15-16), in which Walsh talks about what he calls “this age of anger” in the context of the claim that…

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The power of dissent

At certain times in history, sometimes protracted events have occurred that demonstrated the power of dissent – that (as far as we know) uniquely human capacity to express strong disagreement with some or other aspect of the political, social or cultural status quo, whether this is done peacefully or, in some cases, violently, in a…

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Equality and intellectual emancipation

How does one achieve the intellectual emancipation of students, or, for that matter, of anyone, including yourself? The answer most people would probably give to this question, is that it is done through education and learning. To be sure, but what one learns from the French philosopher, Jacques Rancière, is that a great deal depends…

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The fatal hermeneutic divide in South Africa

Many people are bound to have thought of Alan Paton’s novel, Cry the Beloved Country, in the wake of recent events in South Africa. And everyone who have thought of it as a suitable response to these events may be forgiven. But there’s a saying, that people get the government they deserve, and it is…

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Blood Brothers and socio-economic inequality

At the dramatic culmination of Willy Russell’s gripping musical, Blood Brothers (1983), one of the twins who were parted soon after birth, Mickey, expresses his resentment at his mother, Mrs Johnstone, for not having been the one (Eddie) who was given away to a rich, childless woman, exclaiming something like: “I could have been him!”…

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Is humanity a rational species?

Most readers’ gut reaction to the question, above, would probably be something like: ‘Yes, of course!’ But please consider that the question is not whether humans are, on occasion, capable of rational behaviour. As it stands, the question bears on what would, if it could be answered affirmatively, be the supposed overriding quality of the…

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